Do you ever pause for a moment in your busy day, and ask yourself, “Is our ad agency strong enough to be the agency that prospects and current clients will want to do business with next year? Or five years down the road?” More important, “Do our clients think we are strong enough?” Sometimes it is hard to pin down where your agency’s strengths lie… and where they are taking you.
Why do clients seek out your agency? What kind of work do they expect to see from you? What types of work does your team like to do best—and where do they really shine? What types of jobs are you not getting that you know your agency would do very well? There are probably dozens of other questions along these lines, and they are all valid. Here are a few ideas to ponder as your agency grows and matures, because your strengths impact your agency brand and the perception of your agency in the marketplace.
Explore Your Strengths
Take time to discuss this concept with your people. Schedule a “topic-driven” lunch, and talk about what your employees perceive to be your agency’s strengths. This is the most honest assessment you’re going to find. Some questions to review might be:
- What do we, as an agency, do best? For example, is it our creative, our style, or our unique way of looking at life in general? Or, is it our attention to client needs, or our ability to “hear” them clearly?
- What do we have the ability to do that we are currently not doing?
- How do we inform clients/prospects about agency skills that they are not currently using?
- What should we be doing to build our strengths for the future?
Have someone take notes, and use these to build a plan for action/future assessment.
Express Your Strengths
When you focus on your agency’s specific areas of strength, then you can move ahead and find ways to build that into your agency’s image. Some strengths may be “brandable” as unique processes or services. You can use other strengths to build your image with current and potential clients; your account service people should use strengths as focal points when discussing “what we do best…” Whatever you do, make sure you keep these strengths “top of mind” with your people, so that you all stay focused on the same issues. Also utilize “strength reviews” to help build strengths within your staff.
Exploit Your Strengths
Brand your strengths, put a name to them, and watch them grow. Assess this growth regularly, and see the impact on your bottom line. If there is ever a time to use agency PR, this is it. In essence, the strengths “become” your agency. As an example, a Cleveland agency was well-established as a generalist, all-around agency with some branding experience. While successful, they recognized the need to be seen as unique, with something special to offer their clients. As the industry entered a period of substantial change, the principals repositioned the firm as a brand consultancy, with the help of The Brand Establishment. They now use their strong branding knowledge to gain leverage and stand out from competitors, and to continue to grow their business.
Extend Your Strengths
What happens when you really want to do some new business in a specific area where you have little expertise? This depends on your timeframe. You should first look internally for an employee who wants/is able to grow into a new area. Only if your existing staff can’t fill the bill should you look to buy or hire that expertise.
In the case of new, rapid-growth fields like interactive media, look to bring someone on board (read How Do You Staff a Modern Agency for more information on this topic). Hiring people who complement your agency’s current strengths will further your growth, and extend your bottom line.